How To Build A Successful Brand Community

December 11, 2020

When I first started doing my research on the matter, the name Harley-Davidson and Apple kept popping up. I guess they are the blueprint on how to do it right. In the early 80s, Harley-Davidson almost went bankrupt. Twenty-five years later, they became a global brand, valued at $7.8 billion. The focal point of the company was the building of a brand community. The agency director, Zoe Francis, says that the Harley-Davidson brand journey is an emotional one; it’s storytelling that helps fans feel closer to the brand: sharing information, rich storytelling, and emotional and personal adventures. They make you feel part of the family. Harley-Davidson sells the lifestyle first, then the motorcycle.

What Is a Brand Community?

In a nutshell, it’s an emotion. It’s the “we” experience of a brand, instead of “you and them”. It’s your company inviting them over for coffee and creating space to talk with like-minded individuals. So it’s not just people buying your product, it's them being completely invested. They will buy from your company and tell your story to their friends. Your brand and your customers together form the brand community itself. 
Jeff Bezos says,

"Branding is what people say about you when you're not in the room."

Let’s have a look at Apple now. According to some experts, the success of Apple has everything to do with its brand and nothing to do with the products like the iMac or iPhone. Apple is the epitome of an emotional brand. It's adored by its customers. Somehow they created this beyond-business relationship with users and created a cult-like relationship with their brand. You feel like you are part of the company and that Apple's flat-screen iMac, which you recently bought, was custom made for you.

However, be careful with one thing: the brand community is not the same as brand awareness. 

Nobody remembers the ads they’ve watched. Why? Cause we already blocked them! The old way of marketing through ads is long gone. We don’t want to be told what to buy, but to be informed about what’s good and what’s not. 

The brand community is made of people who are completely involved in your social media, content, and love everything your brand does. 

The Benefits 

Unfortunately, today the world has become very isolated and people want to feel part of something, something they belong to. Studies show that online communities are great to help us connect with people.

Creating an online community around your brand is a modern approach to marketing. It all takes time really, but eventually, it all pays off.

One of the benefits is that they are a free source of content for your products and services. The communities can provide you with info that you can use to attract more customers. They also help in developing brand loyalty and give you honest feedback from your users. 

Where Do We Start?

What’s the point of your business? 

Apple again. If I ask you what it is, I’m sure you won’t say an apple with a bite out of it. Was Apple the first business to create a smartphone? As if! 

By now, you must think to yourself that their smartphone was way better than the others. Well, not really. 

So how did this happen? 


It made you feel like you have to have it and be the cool kid on the block. We are not talking about a technology company, but a company that empowers people through technology. 

You can do the same, but you need to understand the real market needs your business addresses. If you don’t know what the point of your business is, it’s very hard to create content that people connect with. Identifying the point of your business gives you a meaningful focal point for your advertising.

What’s your goal?

If you don’t have clear goals for how you will make life better for your customers, it’s hard to get people excited about your brand.

This is why understanding your brand is so important. You should focus your goals on the big picture when you are building your brand plan because they aim at dealing with the final results. That’s why building a brand starts with identifying your brand’s vision. When your customers know what your brand is all about, it will be easier to find people that will get behind that image.

What platform should you use?

There are several options for you here.

Let’s start with the forums. When it comes to those, you have two types: shared-interest and informative forums. The first one refers to connecting people who have similar interests, and the emphasis is on the collaboration between the members. The second one is when you want to create a space for the community to search for and share content related to your product. 

An example of a shared-interest forum is Sephora's online community, Beauty Talk. Their users ask questions, discuss ideas, and interact with each other. Another thing is that the users use the forum to upload pictures of themselves wearing their products. The photos are then linked to the products on their page.

If you decide to use forums, you should choose forum software. Some of the best ones are the following: Wix, vBulletin, MyBB, XenForo, and Invision Community. Once you’ve chosen the right fit, it’s time to start creating your forum. At first, when you start building individual forums you might get carried away with all the interesting forums you can create. This is the first major mistake you can make. You end up creating way too many forums that have no real content. So, if you find yourself coming up with many different subjects, try and group them under one forum. In addition, you have to contribute all the time and keep your users engaged. Unfortunately, once everything is done it does take some effort to keep writing content.

Still, you need to stick to it. Get into a routine of making a few posts every day. Another thing you should have is friends that are interested in the topics of your forum. In general, don’t be shy. Spread the word about your forum and invite them to see it before you officially launch. The forums are the places where people go to post their questions and find content. The top communities on the internet include Quora, Reddit, Stack Overflow, Yahoo Groups, TripAdvisor, Google Answers, and more. These communities provide you with access to people interested in topics associated with your industry. You can join them and invest your time in building authority. Create an account and content, and publish it to your followers for free.

Another way is by using social media groups. Since 2019, Facebook has decided to put its focus on Facebook groups. They are used by brands because they get an excellent opportunity to build more personal relationships with their customers. Take a look at the Instant Pot community. Their group has over 2.5 million members. The electric cooker brand uses its group as a place where its Instant Pot users can post recipes and share cooking ideas with their products.


When you create a Facebook group for your business you bring people together and build a great marketing platform. Facebook groups allow you to relate to your prospective clients and understand their goals and partner with them to overcome challenges. They help boost engagement, communication, and brand awareness. Once you’ve created your group, you can keep track of your users on your group. Facebook Insights is a tool that could help you achieve that. It gives you details about your community members and their activity. The groups will also help you show the human side of your company. You will be able to interact with the members on a more personal level. According to some research, people are more likely to read a social post from a friend versus a brand. Facebook groups remove barriers and allow you to be more personal. So, be present, always ask for feedback from your members, and post relevant content daily. Another thing you might benefit from are testimonials. If your fans aren’t already posting their own experiences with your product or services, ask politely some of them to post a positive experience in the group. Or when you’re promoting something new, ask your clients to write positive feedback about your offer. Use your group as a place where you can engage, explain, and motivate. Create exclusive content for your group, and provide the community with valuable and entertaining information.

Another important issue is transparency. Support your clients when they complain about your business and share updates when you’re working through issues. Answer quickly to questions, so that they know you are there for them. And what I would suggest, is a closed group. Keeping the idea of certain secrecy will make people want to join even more. This also helps with some quality discussions and it makes life easier for your admins.

A reward program can also attract more users to your brand. Starbucks is a perfect example of this. Each time a member places an order through their Starbucks app, they earn Stars that add up to certain perks.

With rewards, you can create a brand experience that your users can’t find anywhere else. Start providing this type of value from the very beginning by offering welcoming points. When you show customers that you care about them, they will love to join your brand community. Also rewarding smaller actions will encourage your users to engage with your brand even more. In addition, include brand materials or swags as giveaways or rewards for loyal customers. These types of actions will make them incorporate your community into their lives and strengthen their connection with your brand. 

An example of a more advanced brand community is the brand ambassador program. It involves individuals who embody your brand to act as hubs within your community. Lululemon, a clothing brand, has also found success in brand ambassadors. Its brand ambassadors come from the world of yoga and sports organizations. They use various tags (@lululemon) and hashtags (#TheSweatLife).

The ambassadors focus on promoting your brand to increase sales, drive conversions, and augment brand awareness. Most companies find ambassadors via manual social media searches, software programs, or manual application processes. Whatever the method is, reach with a personalized note. A personalized note shows that you’re going the extra mile for them. Set clear expectations for how often you want the ambassador to post about your brand on social media, what platforms to use, and what to include. Create rules so that the ambassadors can properly represent your brand, but don’t make them too restrictive. Your ambassadors will want to have their say on the matter. Another thing is compensation. Some pay the ambassadors with products and some with money. Any form of compensation is a great way to show ambassadors how much you value them.

While I’m sure you will find great brand ambassadors, there is something else you can focus on. Your employees. Though some reach out to influencers, your employees can be a much better choice for broadening your brand community. Your staff needs to know your brand purpose, what you’re willing to stand for, and what your vision of the future looks like. Look for someone who is passionate, has a strong personal brand, and the ability to share their thoughts.

How about tools?

You have to stay involved with your community and you have to make sure you won’t miss a thing posted from your users on your platform. Try using social media engagement tools to be on top of your game: Statusbrew, Hootsuite, Socialbakers, Zoho Social, and Sprout Social. You also have to make sure that they will stay involved. Use polls, surveys, contests to foster conversations. Make it as active as possible.

Another important thing is Online Reputation Management. Unfortunately, people don’t consider it until disaster strikes and they read a bad review about their business. Mention is a platform that scans sources from social media networks, forums, and blogs. You can use it to track your brand, competitors, and customers by using different search criteria. Use Google Alerts to keep track of new content published about your business. In addition, you can follow your competitors. For Twitter, use Followerwonk. It provides insights into how well your tweets have performed, including data on impressions, clicks, likes, and retweets. Tailwind works for both Pinterest and Instagram. It Identifies the best time to publish content, helps you to keep track of your competition, monitors conversations, and gets insights into external content by fans. Respond to users on review websites like TrustPilot, G2, etc, and reviews on Google Play Store and Apple Store (if the company is present there). 

Final Thoughts

Strong brand community, lowers marketing costs, increases customer loyalty, and generates ideas to grow the business. It can be powerful if it is approached with the right skills. If you get it right, the benefits are outstanding. 

However, not everyone can pull it off. 

Creating a community requires organizational commitment. You have to reexamine everything, from company values to organizational design. Any community approach needs special attention and approach to make it work.

If you would like more insight and help to make it work, feel free to reach out. We’d be happy to help you achieve your full potential.

Let’s work together!

Author: Jasmina Stankovska

Jasmina Stankovska

Jasmina is a technical author and content writer. She enjoys movies and music, and when she is trying to give her eyes a break, you’ll find her up on a mountain, exploring nature.